British Prime Minister Theresa May has been criticised for calling a General Election for 8 June — because it falls during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Muslim politicians from the Labour and Scottish National parties said holding the election during a month of fasting could lead to reduced voter turnout in areas with high Muslim populations, the London Evening Standard reports.
Labour MP Rushanara Ali, who represents Bethnal Green and Bow in East London, said: “The fact that the general election will fall in the middle of Ramadan is not ideal.
“Holding an election during Ramadan means there could be a disproportionate effect on voter turnout in those constituencies with a sizeable Muslim population.
“If anyone thinks that their ability to go and vote will be affected, I urge them to register for a postal vote.”
Her colleague Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, agreed, adding: “It is unfortunate that Theresa May has scheduled the election to take place during the holy month of Ramadan.
“I know this will present challenges to Muslim voters and those who wish to campaign. At best I can only suggest that this did not even feature in her thinking, which is disappointing.”
Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Minister for Transport, said that Muslims could feel that “they were certainly not even factored at all into the conversation” about having an election, saying “it will have an impact, I suspect, on turnout”.
However, the suggestion has been rubbished by Muslim groups.
The Muslim Council of Britain said it could see “no reason” why it should have any impact on Muslim voters, adding: “Muslims fasting during Ramadan will go about their normal daily activities and taking time out to cast a vote will have no impact on their choice to do so.”
Sayed Yousif Al-Khoei OBE, chairman of the Shi’a Muslim Al-Khoei Foundation, also said: “In general, Ramadan and fasting is not supposed to impede normal life. It’s supposed to be a spiritual experience.”
“The spiritual uplifting of fasting should really make a Muslim more resilient and that should not really be a pretext for not voting, and I encourage everyone to use their right to vote,” he added.